Two convicted felons suspected of robbing a Perris store, shooting at a security guard while making their getaway and later attempting to evade sheriff’s deputies were behind bars Friday.

David Joseph Esparza, 28, and Jose Rangel, 27, were both arrested Thursday on suspicion of robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Esparza was additionally booked for alleged probation violations, while Rangel was additionally booked for felony evading, being a felon in possession of a firearm and parole violations.

Both men are being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta — Esparza without bail, and Rangel in lieu of $100,000 bail.

According to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Curt Harris, shortly after midnight Wednesday, the suspects allegedly stormed the Circle K at 3995 Perris Blvd., and one of them leveled a handgun at the clerk while his cohort stole merchandise.

Harris said a security guard working a night shift happened to stop by the outlet and was just stepping inside when the suspects, apparently frightened by the uniform, bolted outside, nearly knocking the guard over.

The pair allegedly fled in an SUV, which the guard attempted to follow.

“One of the suspects fired his weapon at the guard,” the sergeant said.

He said the suspects could not be located by deputies who converged on the location. However, investigators obtained evidence enabling them to identify Esparza as one of the alleged bandits, according to Harris.

Deputies staked out a residence in the 23000 block of Alma Street where Esparza was believed to be holed up, Harris said. After several hours, the probationer, Rangel and a 19-year-old woman were observed leaving the place in an SUV that matched the description given by the security guard.

“When (deputies) attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver led them on a pursuit around the southern part of Perris,” Harris said. “The pursuit ended in the same area where it began, but the occupants of the vehicle fled (on foot) in different directions.”

With the help of a sheriff’s helicopter crew, deputies eventually tracked down and arrested the trio without a struggle. No one was injured.

The woman was questioned and released.

According to court records, Esparza has prior convictions for auto theft, hit-and-run resulting in property damage and obstructing a peace officer. Rangel’s priors were not specified.

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